October 2, 2007

News From the Research Trenches

Josh Chasin
Chief Research Officer

I joined comScore as Chief Research officer on May 30, but this is my first post to the comScore blog. I’ve spent a lot of time these past three months meeting with clients and working with industry groups (e.g., MRC, IAB, and ARF), hearing first hand about your perspective on the hot issues in Internet audience measurement and online metrics. As I wrote in my September 7 column for Mediapost’s Online Metrics Insider, I’m thrilled to be working in this space at this time.

Let me take this opportunity to share with you some headlines from the front here and in upcoming posts.

comScore Speaks on Metrics Panels at OMMA, MIXX
Last week, comScore President/CEO Magid Abraham appeared on a panel at the IAB’s MIXX conference moderated by Bob Liodice, the President/CEO of the Association of National Advertisers. In his opening statement, Magid made a brief and concise but forceful case that server-centric counts of Unique Visitors are inflated. Often the panel-versus-server debate dominates this kind of forum; but here Magid managed to pre-empt that discussion.

Increasingly, as comScore and others work to educate the industry, it is becoming clear that site-centric web analytics are simply not measuring the same thing that audience measurement services do. There is absolutely an indispensable place in the publisher business model for such data - but to conflate the measurement of cumulative persons-based audiences (which is what comScore does) with the tracking of the behavior of machines (which is what site-centric data does) is simply not appropriate.

With respect to the counting of Unique Visitors, site-centric data typically can not account for the differences between bots or spiders and people; the inflation that results from cookie deletion; duplication across the work and home audiences; or in-country versus international traffic. Increasingly though, it looks like the online metrics community understands and has assimilated these issues; often I speak with clients who tell me that they don’t expect our UV estimates to match their internal data, for all the reasons above.

And of course, site-centric data cannot tell you about cross-site duplication, or about demographic composition, or about reach/frequency. But then, I’m preaching to the choir, aren’t I?

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